Thursday, 19 January 2017

GREECE is the word

Halkidiki’s best-kept secret

Unlike its neighbouring peninsulars, far from a commercialised holiday destination, Athos, the third leg of Halkidiki, is home to very few hotels. And Eagles Palace is the only five-star in the area…

Landing in Thessaloniki, the onward journey took me by surprise. I had expected a dry landscape, not lush green hills dotted with bright flora and fauna. It’s a picturesque yet dramatic (I arrived to leaden skies) ninety minute ride to the five-star ‘Small Luxury Hotel of the World’ Eagles Palace Hotel & Spa, situated just outside the coastal village of Ouranopolis. 

Next morning, the every which way horizon dawned blue and I looked out to the private pool and the perfectly painted Aegean sea - with an espresso to help me drink it in. And wake up - I've never slept so well anywhere. 

Every room is a room with a view; mysterious Mt Athos, peaking out surveying all just beyond. The tranquility here means you quickly relax. Yet it must also be something to do with the hospitality? The fact that the hotel is in the hands of a third generation of a family that love it and live here - genuinely caring about the holiday they deliver… 

All the guests I talked to felt they’d struck gold. With its high standards, Eagles Palace is enchanting. The prestige label of 'Small Luxury Hotel of the World' is not handed out easily. Nor are the other awards: A blue flag beach accreditation and several Green/Eco accolades, proudly hang out together in the entrance, making a grand entrance even grander. 

The interior is classy. I particularly loved the courtyard with its colour, candles and cushions. And the elegant bedrooms and bathrooms in the main hotel are lovely, although perhaps you'd prefer the privacy of a luxurious bungalow, complete with own pool?

This five-star haven offers solitude and quiet corners everywhere, allowing you to indulge in its charm. Families are welcome too. There's a fab kids club catering for all ages from four months up. One of the best I've witnessed - and being a trained nanny in a former life; there's been a few. The older kids were out scuba diving, the younger kids engaged in arts and crafts.

Relaxing in the luxurious spa is a must, and if you don't fall apart at the prospect of paper pants, I can recommend the lime and ginger exfoliation as a treatment. 

Should you tire of relaxing, diving and water sports are on tap. But please don’t get up, simply ring the bell on your sunbrella and someone will be over with more towels, a G&T or whatever it is your heart desires.

Before too long, you feel very at home here and I put money on the fact that you'll want to return. Perhaps indicative of this are the guests that come back year on year. 

Basically, if you’re someone seeking downtime, then you’re missing a trick if you don’t put Eagles Palace Hotel & Spa on your holiday list. This resort offers secrecy and solace as well as family fun, but do me a favour - shhh! Try and keep it to yourself?

This post first appeared in Tempus Magazine